The Yosemite fire shows how climate-change-driven droughts amplify wildfires in a warming, drying West, reports Andrew Freedman at Climate Central. The vegetation in the area, and indeed across much of central and southern California, is extremely dry, as the state has experienced its driest recorded year-to-date. A wetter-than-average July in California did little to alleviate drought conditions, and a major heat wave in July helped further dry out soils, priming forests for fire. Parts of the West have been warming faster than the rest of the lower 48 states since the 1970s, a trend tied to climate change as well as natural climate variability. Anthony Westerling, a University of California climate who studies how climate change effects wildfires, said that increasing temperatures promotes evaporation, which leads to more frequent instances of “extreme fire conditions.” The previous winter started out wet, but then went dry starting in January. The resulting snowpack was very low, which meant that vegetation dried out much sooner than normal. A resource manager noted that such a bipolar winter, with little spring snow, may be a sign of winters to come in a changing climate.
Join the swelling numbers of voters TELLING Congress they’ll vote for Clean Energy candidates here: http://signon.org/sign/we-are-the-clean-99?source=c.em.cp&r_by=487176 . This is an ongoing campaign (the next Congressional election is in less than 2 years!) so please, spread the word. It’s our way of telling Congress that a strong clean energy voting bloc is out there. This is how YOU can make a difference.
For more on Climate Change, check out my weekly column at the HuffingtonPost, Climate Change This Week : http://www.huffingtonpost.com/author/index.php?author=mary-ellen-harte
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